Andover Chapel, the largest sacred space on the HDS campus, was dedicated as a Protestant Church in 1911 when the Andover Hall building was constructed. Today, flexible seating has replaced the original fixed pews, and the traditional altar has been re-purposed with areas set aside for meditation, Muslim prayer, and others forms of worship. A sign at the door proclaims “Welcome to all” and urges visitors to “Please feel free to use the chapel as a place of refuge for prayer, meditation, and rest.” An almost dizzying range of gatherings occur in the chapel during the academic year for all members of the community.
In 2007, a labyrinth was constructed in the courtyard behind Andover Hall. Quietly blending with the landscape, it is accessible to all for meditation, contemplation and walking. “It was a way to establish in stone the power of pilgrimage and contemplation in a place devoted to the study of religion.” explains Director of Spiritual Life and Harvard Divinity School Chaplain Kerry Maloney.
A short walk brings a visitor to Divinity Hall, the first Harvard University building situated outside of Harvard Yard. Updated a number of times over the years, the building has served as everything from classroom to dormitory space. Divinity Hall Chapel was the heart of the Divinity School in the early years and was the site of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous 1838 Divinity School Address. The Chapel was renovated by architect A.W. Longfellow, Jr. in 1904 and has been carefully preserved. In 2010, the original pews were removed and replaced by flexible seating to accommodate academic and religious gatherings as well as private functions held in the room.
Built in the late 1950s, The Center for the Study of World Religions is located directly across Francis Avenue from Andover Hall. To assure accessibility, a small meditation room located on the first floor replaces the original space at the top of the building. This room provides an area for meditation, prayer, reflection, and quiet reading for the entire HDS community. Quotes from many traditions emphasizing the importance of meditation line one wall. A small sign thanks a visitor “for bringing your presence and stillness into this space”, and a courtyard garden enhances the contemplative atmosphere of the meditation room.
While these four facilities formally represent sacred spaces at Harvard Divinity School, “everywhere is holy” as far as Chaplain Maloney is concerned.
For more information: http://hds.harvard.edu/life-at-hds/religious-and-spiritual-life